Last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to select the Port of Oswego's rail project as the recipient of a $1.5 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) V grant.
The funds would enable the New York port to make critical upgrades to rail infrastructure and equipment to meet future shipping demands and increase productivity, as well as leverage $1.75 million in matching funds for the project, Schumer said in a press release.
One mile of rail along the port's docks has been in place since 1963 and has not undergone any major rehabilitation since, prompting CSX Transportation to shut down activity at times on the deteriorated track. In addition, eight switches on site don't work properly, which is hazardous since the port handles 1,000 cars annually, said Schumer.
The project calls for constructing a heavy rail-embedded roadway connecting the port's main east terminal to a six-acre open-storage area. The work will nearly double the port's storage and operation area, and relieve yard congestion. In addition, two additional side tracks will allow the port to increase its rail-car storage capacity from 16 to 48, and provide a more efficient and safer traffic flow for rail cars, said Schumer.
"The Port of Oswego is gearing up for a boost in shipping traffic and imports in valuable commodities, but the federal government holds the keys to unlocking the full potential of this job-creating trade hub in central New York," he said. "The federal investment is great bang for its buck — it will increase [rail-car] storage [capacity] by 67 percent, ease congestion and facilitate the movement of goods in and out of the port.
At least $120 million of TIGER V funding is required to be spent on rural area projects, and the port's rail work qualifies as a rural area project under TIGER guidelines, said Schumer. The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to announce TIGER V grant recipients in September.
In February, Schumer called on the Federal Railroad Administration to provide the port a $1.5 million direct loan for the project through the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program.
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